DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler group plans to introduce 25 vehicles in the United States in the next three years, dramatically increasing the rate of debuts, its top executive said Oct. 1, according to a Reuters report. "All told, and I'm saying this in public for the first time here in Boston, the Chrysler group will bring 25 new vehicles to market over the next 36 months," said Dieter Zetsche, Chrysler's CEO, according to Reuters. Speaking at the Boston College Chief Executives' Club, Zetsche said he was optimistic the world's fifth-largest automaker will see better times ahead, Reuters reported. The ambitious plan includes the launch of nine vehicles in 2004, Zetsche said. "That will be the most new vehicles ever launched by any auto manufacturer in the U.S. in a one-year period," he added, according to Reuters. The quickened pace comes at a time when few analysts expect to see an upturn in the intensely competitive U.S. auto market this year. Many analysts, in fact, predict Chrysler will be forced to downsize and close assembly plants, Reuters said. This year, Chrysler will launch a total of only three new vehicles: the Pacifica, the Chrysler Crossfire and the Dodge Durango. For the 2003 business year, the company said it expects its U.S. unit to post a slightly positive operating profit. Executives, however, are cautious, acknowledging that economic risks still loom after Chrysler's disappointing $1.1 billion second-quarter loss, Reuters said. Zetsche on Oct. 1 acknowledged the tough environment, calling it a "jungle," according to Reuters. "I'm certain that we'll have to make any number of short-term adjustments to adapt moving forward, depending on how the environment takes shape," Zetsche said.
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